Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje leaves out detractors in first ministry expansion
Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje carried out her first cabinet expansion on Monday, leaving out her detractors but giving ample hints of the RSS stamp on her government.
She inducted 15 ministers in her council of ministers including a late entrant who took the oath in the evening after missing the ceremony during the day.
Immediately after induction of the new legislators - including three women - Raje turned towards RSS leaders Rajendra Bhai, Durgadas and Moolchand sitting as VIP guests, and asked, "Ab aap log santusht to ho na (Are you satisfied now)?"
With hands folded, they smiled in response.
Raje was sworn-in as the chief minister on December 13 after leading the party to a landslide victory bagging 163 seats in the 200-member assembly.
She had inducted nine cabinet ministers and three ministers of state on December 20.
Four of those inducted on Monday were given cabinet rank while 11 were made ministers of state, six of them with independent charge.
Eight of them had served as ministers during Raje's first term as chief minister during 2003-08.
With the expansion, the strength of her ministry rose to 26.
The ministers were administered oath by governor Kalyan Singh at the Governor House here. One of the ministers Vasudev Devnani took the oath in Sanskrit while the rest did so in Hindi.
The new ministers are likely to be allotted portfolios on Monday late night or Tuesday.
Like her first council of ministers, Raje sent a clear cut message to her detractors by inducting her loyalists while totally ignoring senior legislators Ghanshyam Tiwari, despite his RSS background, Narpat Singh Rajvi, son-in-law of former CM Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, and Rao Rajendra Singh, known for his deep knowledge about governance.
Though the CM tried to strike caste and regional balance and give space to RSS-backed legislators, the expansion led to resentment among a section of the party which said deserving candidates have been ignored.
"Only 'yes men' have been given preference," said a party leader who was present at the ceremony.
The cabinet expansion was delayed time and again due to differences between state and national leadership over inclusion of some names.
Raje had been holding 47 portfolios including home, urban development and housing, tourism, and forest since December.
"The new ministers are able people and they will surely work for welfare of people and development of the state," Raje told the media after the ceremony.
Sources said that MLA Jeetmal Khant from Garhi constituency in Banswara district flew to Jaipur and took oath as minister of state in a special ceremony at the Governor House in the evening. Khant was to reach Jaipur from Udaipur but was delayed for unspecified reasons and missed the earlier ceremony.
(With inputs from PTI)